I am surprised USFK did not already have a unit dedicated to doing human intelligence analysis already:
The U.S. troops in South Korea are pushing to set up a unit that will be charged with gathering and analyzing human intelligence on North Korea, local authorities said Sunday.
Human Intelligence, known as HUMINT, is intelligence gathered by means of interpersonal contact.
The move comes as the North’s development of communications security technology is increasingly making signals surveillance of the country’s internal communications more difficult.
According to the authorities, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) plans to create a specialized unit around October under the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade of the Eighth U.S. Army. The new unit will be called the 524th Military Intelligence Battalion, they said.
In the brigade, the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion is in charge of human intelligence affairs, but its main duty is analyzing intelligence, not directly gathering it. [Korea Times]
Another sign that Yongsan Garrison is getting closer to being shutdown:
Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, the commanding general of the 8th U.S. Army, speaks next to a statue of Gen. Walton H. Walker, a Korean War hero, at Yongsan Garrison in central Seoul, Tuesday. The U.S. Army began the relocation of its base from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, with the transfer of the statue. / Yonhap
The U.S. Army at Yongsan Garrison, central Seoul, began base relocation in earnest to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province Tuesday, to what will be its largest overseas base.
The large-scale relocation project began with a historic ceremony to mark the relocation of the Gen. Walton H. Walker monument, hosted by the Eighth U.S. Army in front of its headquarters.
Gen. Walker was the commander of the Eighth Army when it was deployed to the Korean Peninsula with the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War on June 25, 1950.
“The Gen. Walker statue will be moved from Yongsan to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek,” the Eighth Army said in a release, noting that this event will mark the beginning of the Eighth Army’s relocation. [Korea Times]
What would be an interesting piece of information is what is the pollution to the ground water in other areas of Seoul around Yongsan Garrison? I find it hard to believe that Yongsan is the only place in Seoul with polluted ground water:
A contaminant detected in groundwater beneath a U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) garrison in Seoul was above the permissible level, a government report showed Tuesday.
The U.S. Army base in Yongsan, central Seoul, has long been suspected as the source of oil that has contaminated the nearby water and land.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has been conducting a purification project since 2001, but petroleum-based contaminants above the standard level have continued to be detected in water near the base.
According to a joint probe conducted by the environment ministry and the USFK in May 2015, 2.440 milligrams per liter of benzene was found at an observation well at the base, which is 162 times higher than the allowable level of 0.015 milligrams per liter.
Among 14 monitoring wells of 15 to 20 centimeters in diameter, four had benzene levels some 20 to 162 times higher than the standard, the report showed. A total of seven wells showed above standard levels of benzenes. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but this pollution issue has long been one that South Korean leftists have used to stoke anti-US sentiment and the Korean government uses to get additional money out of USFK for clean up expenses which according to the SOFA they don’t have to pay.
We will see how this all plays out just like when the camps in Area 1 closed out back in 2004.
There is a reason that Northeast Asia has been stable since the end of the Korean War after decades of conflict and that is the US military presence in the region. Doug Bandow from the libertarian Cato Institute disagrees:
But that world disappeared long ago. The Korean Peninsula has lost its geopolitical significance, South Korea its helplessness, and America’s Korea commitment its purpose. While there is much to criticize in the approach of Donald Trump’s administration to the rest of the world, the president correctly sees the need for a foreign policy that more effectively protects America’s interests. A good place to start shifting course is the region home to the world’s newest and least responsible nuclear power.
The Koreas are no longer a proxy battleground between superpowers. There was a time when U.S. withdrawal from a confrontation with a Soviet ally in Asia would have, analysts believed, signaled weakness a continent away in Europe. But the Soviets are long gone and the cause for American commitment with them. An inter-Korean war would be tragic and the body count enormous, but absent American involvement the fighting would largely be confined to the peninsula. The continued presence of U.S. forces, by contrast, virtually guarantees the spread of conflict.
South Korea’s defense no longer requires Washington’s presence. The South’s economy began racing past its northern antagonist during the 1960s. Democracy arrived in the late 1980s. By the 1990s, when mass starvation stalked Pyongyang as Seoul’s economy boomed, the gap between the two Koreas was already huge and growing. The South’s military potential is correspondingly great though as yet unrealized — in part because dependence on the U.S. presence has affected strategic choices. [Foreign Policy]
You can read the rest at the link as well as read my prior analysis of why USFK withdrawal will not happen any time soon at this link.
The Sea of Japan/East Sea issue has come back up again:
Shortly after North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Wednesday, the U.S. military issued a statement that may add to the anger of Koreans over the naming of the waters between the peninsula and Japan.
In a five-paragraph document posted on its website, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), headquartered in Hawaii, confirmed the North’s firing of a missile, saying it flew nine minutes before falling into the “Sea of Japan.”
Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) here uploaded a statement on its own homepage with mostly the same content.
The only differences were the time, as PACOM’s version is based on Hawaii time and the USFK’s notes Korean standard time, and the name of the waters, which Koreans call the East Sea.
The USFK’s statement said the missile landed in “waters East of the Korean Peninsula.”
Some South Korean journalists stationed at the defense ministry’s press room complained about PACOM’s use of the Sea of Japan alone in the official document directly involving Korea and read by many people in the key regional ally. [Yonhap]
You can read the rest at the link, but USFK admitted they modified the naming in their statement which makes sense since their statement is directed more towards a Korean audience. PACOM on the other hand makes statements directed towards a regional audience that includes Japan, so of course they are going to use the internationally recognized naming convention for the body of water between the two countries which is the Sea of Japan.
Considering how the Korean left went irrationally crazy about 20 gallons of formaldehyde that went through not one, but two water treatment plants before entering the Han River I can only imagine what they can dream up with 600 gallons of fuel dropped into this lake outside of Kunsan:
A U.S. fighter jet jettisoned its auxilliary fuel tanks into a lake near Kunsan Air Base after suffering an in-flight emergency during a training mission.
The pilot of the F-16, which was assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing, released the drop tanks Wednesday after receiving an indication of an oil system malfunction, a spokeswoman said
“The pilot safely executed the established emergency procedures, which included releasing the fuel tanks before landing unharmed,” Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said Friday in an email.
The tanks fell into a lake in an area owned by the Saemangeum Regional Environmental Office under the Ministry of Environment, about two miles west of Kunsan Air Base, the 7th Air Force public affairs officer said. [Stars & Stripes]
This is the first time I have heard of something like this happening:
A 57-year-old South Korean security guard was found dead in an apparent suicide at a U.S. military base in Ujeongbu, South Korea, on Thursday, police said.
The officer, identified only by his last name Cha, was found with a gunshot wound in his head by a colleague at a guard post in the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, at around 1:20 a.m.
He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead.
In the 3.3-square-meter sentry post, a 45-caliber revolver provided by U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) for security purposes was found, they said. Cha was working alone when the incident took place.
He left what was seen as a suicide note at the site, referring to debts he was suffering from, according to police. Police said they will investigate the details of the incident based on testimonies from Cha’s colleagues and the bereaved family. [Korea Times]
So I wonder what the smoke was to cause him to do an emergency landing?:
An Apache helicopter made an emergency landing in a rice paddy south of Seoul on Wednesday evening as a precaution, after the pilot detected smoke in the cockpit.
No injuries or damages were reported, a 2nd Infantry Division spokesman said.
The crew did a systems check after landing the AH-64 helicopter in the city of Asan, Chungcheongnam-do province. Maintenance staff from Camp Humphreys also traveled to the site to inspect the aircraft but found nothing wrong, Lt. Col. Chris Hyde said. [Stars & Stripes]
Here are some new MRAPs that should soon be seen being used by the 2nd Infantry Division:
The Army is sending more than 100 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to South Korea to boost troop protection capabilities as tensions rise on the divided peninsula.
The decision is a reversal after a 2012 feasibility study found that MRAPs — famous for saving countless lives from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan — weren’t suitable for maneuver battalions in South Korea.
The 8th Army says it began fielding MRAPs and smaller versions known as M-ATVs in late December and was on track to complete the deployment to multiple locations by the end of February. [Stars & Stripes]